Trying to Explain Baseball

The bell goes off. It’s time for recess. The majority of the boys run like wild and play whatever sport is in season. Then, there are the rest of the boys who for whatever reason don’t join in. This is BR, my eight-year-old.  Despite his tall, slim, and muscular build, BR shys away from playing organized sports. His o.t. issues and poor coordination hold him back.

BR’s best friend is in the same category and this softens the blow. They enjoy each other’s company.

However, we (my wife and I) don’t want sports to act as a social barrier for BR.

So, we got him books (a biography of Derek Jeter and Everything Kids Baseball Book) about sports. It makes perfect sense. He loves to read and has an amazing memory.  He has a keen interest in numbers and soon enough he will memorize the stats. So he may not play organized sports, but at least, he can be conversant when the other boys talk about sports.

Of course, it’s not so simple. He’s a bit awkward and not always socially appropriate (many adults are not always socially appropriate either, but I think you know what I mean). Anyway, gaining the sports knowledge in addition to our Wii sportsathons and practice sessions in the backyard will hopefully help his ability to socialize with the other boys.

However talking about sports is not simple.

BR was reading down the list of all time home run leaders. It is a virtual who’s who of steroid abusers. I mentioned to him that a number of the players on the list including Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa were cheaters.

“How did they cheat?”

“They used drugs.”

“Where did they get the drugs?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did they know they were using drugs?”

“They knew.”

“What did the drugs do?”

“It made them stronger.”

“Why can’t you use them?”

“They are illegal.”

“So, how did they get them?”

“I don’t know. I guess someone gave it to them.”

“Who gave it to that person?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did they go to jail?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“You’re right.”

The conversation went from there. BR remained confused while I emphasized that cheaters and drugs are wrong.

Sports can instill and teach many worthwhile lessons. They helped me, a shy guy, feel good about himself and part of something. I believe sports can help BR find a way to fit in with his peers. However, drugs and cheating have to be part of a conversation about professional sports. And that is a disappointing reality.

16 thoughts on “Trying to Explain Baseball

  1. You’re so right that it’s such a sad reality in the sports world to be on performance-enhancing drugs. My 6YO lives and breathes sports. If he’s not actually playing a sport, he’s watching it, playing it in a video game, reading about it, drawing out the plays on paper, sorting collector’s cards, playing with the action figures, making his own running commentating, etc. Obsessed. And he’s very competitive. This sad reality of sports and drugs makes it so hard for someone without that “advantage” to do well for themselves, and I pray it’s a trap my son never falls into. :(

    • I can understand your son. I was the same way.
      I worry for kids today. Sports is filled with many poor role models. I am sure not all players were angels in the past, but the poor behavior seems more prevalent. Like it or not, athletes are role models. You hope the kid can seperate the athlete from the person.

  2. My husband just had this same talk with my daughter. She brought home a book from school about Lance Armstrong and a few other sports legends. The title was something along the lines of Champions for All Time. My husband explained that Lance cheated and had virtually the same discussion you did! My daughter then went to school and told her teacher that Lance was a cheater so they didn’t read that chapter in class!

  3. I agree – this reality is so disappointing. Your conversation sounds hard and valuable. I hadn’t thought of having a similar one with Ava, but I want to instill this lesson about about cheating and deceiving. Will you come over and talk with her?

    • I would be happy to talk to Ava. However, I don’t know how effective I was with my own son, so I think I will leave it to you guys. Really, what is there to say? Some things just stink! How’s that for eloquent?

  4. While I was reading this I too thought of Lance.He was someone I loved to watch and I was so sad that he did what he did.Alexis my nine year old granddaughter and I were talking about it and she told me she thought he didn’t believe in himself enough and that is why he took drugs.I thought that was profound.Talking to kids when you don’t understand yourself lends me to listening more and I guess that is good.This was a great post for me.Thank you

    • Lance Armstrong went from such a wonderful story to a huge dissapointment – to say the least. He made the sport of bicycling. How many people can name other riders?
      I like Alexis’ take on the situation. You are right kids can often cut right through the junk and get to the point.

  5. Kudos to you Larry, it is so important to let children know about the pitfalls in life. I raised two boys and one girl. They were all involved in sports and we explained that sports for them was suppose to be about having fun and interacting with others. It’s about feeling the joy of winning, but also being a good loser. Your post shows that you really care about children and not just the sport itself. Kudos to you. Keep up the good work.:o)

    • I try to be honest with my children but also recognize what they can and can’t handle. I hope they come to enjoy sports and take what is good out of it.
      It’s great that your kids involved in sports and got the right lessons from it.

  6. Hi,
    Before I go any further let me make a confession. I am sometimes one of those socially inappropriate people. Especially in the morning before eleven. There are times when you should just leave me alone, because I am not open to discussion. :-)

    Now to the topic of sports. You have quite a dilemma on your hands. It is sad but true that many of the so called sportsmen and sportswomen of today have made some very bad choices without considering the effect that it will have on those people who look up to them.

    How do you explain to a child something that even adults don’t understand, something where even adults become sour and lose their faith in the integrity of people. I don’t have any answers, but I do believe that a good solid family unit with an open atmosphere to answer that child’s questions will help him or her come to a conclusion, which will benefit him or her as they continue to grow toward adulthood.

    Ciao,
    Patricia

    • Yeah, we all are inappropriate sometimes. Anyway, I will remember to not bother you before 11.
      I think you are right about the family unit. I think that is the answer – or at least part of it – to many of the issues we face today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *